Today (June 19th, 2010) would be Dad’s 75th birthday. The Lord took him home on January 16th, 2006. It’s been over four years, but sometimes it feels like four hours. Sometimes I miss him so much, I think the ache will do serious physiological harm to my heart.
I often wonder what Dad would say about some of the direction that my thoughts and convictions have taken in the past few years since the Lord took him home. I think I know, though. He would be very supportive. For all his fundamentalist stake-holding, he was committed to the Lord far more. He was always more happy to see me pursuing the Lord with my mind than he was bothered by any departure from the traditional family thinking that that pursuit might bring. And often, after a little time for rumination, he would end up expressing a view somewhat similar to mine. Examples include an ability to appreciate Roman Catholic Christianity as possibly being more than a travesty of the truth or an appreciation for literary and canonical approaches to Scripture.
My father, who had taught me so much all through the early years of my life, was able to learn from me in the later years of his. And in doing so, he taught me one of the best things I ever learned from him. I hope to give my kids a father who learns from them and affirms them as Christian thinkers in their own right.
People who knew my Dad in his fifties or earlier would probably never think of him as a flexible man. Even if they were around him quite a bit in his later years, most would probably not be able to see the changes in him. For he never became utterly malleable. He was no wishy-washy vacillator. He was a man of firm conviction. But he was willing to listen to people, and to listen for the Lord to say things through them – perhaps even unexpected things.
There is so much that I want to say about the great “Bear” who was my Dad. But for now, I will leave it at this: I thank the Lord for the grounding Dad gave me in the word of the Lord and the love he taught me for the Lord of the word (Deuteronomy 11:18-19).
I love you, Dad!
See you soon (Psalm 39:5)!